An efficient and pH-universal ruthenium-based catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction.

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Nature nanotechnology, ISSN: 1748-3395, Vol: 12, Issue: 5, Page: 441-446

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Mahmood, Javeed; Li, Feng; Jung, Sun-Min; Okyay, Mahmut Sait; Ahmad, Ishfaq; Kim, Seok-Jin; Park, Noejung; Jeong, Hu Young; Baek, Jong-Beom
Chemical Engineering; Physics and Astronomy; Engineering; Materials Science
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The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is a crucial step in electrochemical water splitting and demands an efficient, durable and cheap catalyst if it is to succeed in real applications. For an energy-efficient HER, a catalyst must be able to trigger proton reduction with minimal overpotential and have fast kinetics. The most efficient catalysts in acidic media are platinum-based, as the strength of the Pt-H bond is associated with the fastest reaction rate for the HER. The use of platinum, however, raises issues linked to cost and stability in non-acidic media. Recently, non-precious-metal-based catalysts have been reported, but these are susceptible to acid corrosion and are typically much inferior to Pt-based catalysts, exhibiting higher overpotentials and lower stability. As a cheaper alternative to platinum, ruthenium possesses a similar bond strength with hydrogen (∼65 kcal mol), but has never been studied as a viable alternative for a HER catalyst. Here, we report a Ru-based catalyst for the HER that can operate both in acidic and alkaline media. Our catalyst is made of Ru nanoparticles dispersed within a nitrogenated holey two-dimensional carbon structure (Ru@CN). The Ru@CN electrocatalyst exhibits high turnover frequencies at 25 mV (0.67 H s in 0.5 M HSO solution; 0.75 H s in 1.0 M KOH solution) and small overpotentials at 10 mA cm (13.5 mV in 0.5 M HSO solution; 17.0 mV in 1.0 M KOH solution) as well as superior stability in both acidic and alkaline media. These performances are comparable to, or even better than, the Pt/C catalyst for the HER.